Game developer and publisher Electronic Arts announced that on June 14 it will retire three of its Facebook games: Sim City Social, The Sims Social and Pet Society.
EA made the announcement on its website and explained that the games were being retired so it can “can reallocate development resources to other titles.” The announcement also encourages players to spend their existing balance of in-game currency as it will become invalid starting June 14.
This is a dramatic but not at all surprising move for EA. EA’s Q2 2013 earnings report was scant on information about the company’s performance and plans for its social games. However, former EA CEO John Riccitiello then revealed the company’s changed its outlook from last quarter as it’s shifted to focusing on mobile development, killing or delaying as many as 10 different social games.
For its Q3 2013 earnings report EA didn’t even mention the performance of its social games, instead focusing on mobile, which contributed $100 million to the total of $321 million of its digital revenue.
In an interview last month, we asked senior vice president and general manager of EA’s All Play label Nick Earl about the company’s plans for social games. His answer also indicated the company’s shift away from Facebook.
“Social has been a little tricky, so we rethought our resources there and which franchises to get behind,” he said. “We still believe that there’s a market there, but it’s a matter of doing the right game at the right time. You’ll see a lot of energy and output on tablet and the iPhone side. We believe there’s no ceiling on that market in the foreseeable future.”
The company hasn’t been able to recreate the success it saw with The Sims Social. None of its three major releases on the platform (Outernauts, SimCity Social and JetSet Secrets) have proven to be major hits. If we look at SimCity Social as an example, the game peaked in August 2012 with 15.3 MAU, but quickly lost users in the following months, settling in the 1.6 MAU range today.
Even the Facebook gaming giant Zynga has had difficulty launching new games on the platform. In February it announced its plan to retire 13 of its titles, among them CityVille 2, which launched in November 2012.